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 By Paul Murphy

Mika Chunuonsee's Bangkok United in seventh heaven, top of PLT

Bangkok United’s Mika Chunuonsee
Mike Chunuonsee helped Bangkok United to a 1-0 win over Bangkok Glass to stay top of the table.

Bangkok United's Mika Chunuonsee insists that a top-three finish remains the target for his team after an impressive 1-0 victory at Bangkok Glass kept them top of the Premier League of Thailand (PLT) table, with their seventh win on the trot.

Mano Polking's men again ground out another good result against dangerous opponents, with Welsh-Thai defender Mika outstanding in defence as Glass Rabbits' star striker Ariel Rodriguez had an off day.

Muang Thong United remain hot on the heels of Mika's side as Cleiton Silva hit a century of Thai league goals in the 3-0 win at Chiang Rai United.

Here are five things we learned from PLT Matchday 10:

1. Bangkok United can mix it up

The Bangkok Angels started the season amid a flurry of goals as a 5-3 home defeat to Buriram United was followed by 4-3 and 3-2 victories at Army United and Muang Thong respectively.

But Polking's men have shown a different side to their game in the past few weeks, conceding just once in the past five matches. Just as Mario Djurovski's first-half strike made the difference at Ratchaburi last weekend, Jaycee John struck the decisive blow after 22 minutes at Bangkok Glass.

After that, there was much defending to do but heroic performances from Mika and his teammates, combined with brave goalkeeping from Kittipong Phuthawchueak, kept Bangkok Glass at bay.

United have now defeated three of the current top seven away from home and Mika is delighted with the new-found defensive discipline.

"We have kept three clean sheets in a row and, let's not forget, we have played all the big four -- three away from home -- in Buriram, Ratchaburi, Muang Thong and now Bangkok Glass," Mika told ESPN FC.

"We conceded a lot of goals in the Buriram game but I felt we were unfairly criticised as people said we didn't care about defending and only played attacking football. Today, we showed that we can defend against the best teams in the league."

While the variety in winning performances against strong opponents points to title contending form, Mika insists it is premature to talk in such terms.

"Talk of finishing as champion is very ambitious for a club that two years ago was fighting relegation," the Thai international said.

"But the staff and players all believe that we can match every team in the league on the day. We are all ambitious so we must believe we can win the league but I believe top three is still the realistic target and would be a good achievement."

As Buriram United drew another blank in a 0-0 home draw with lowly Chainat, it is looking increasingly like Thailand could have a new champion in 2016.

Muangthong United
Muang Thong have proven to be genuine title contenders this season.

2. Cleiton hits century with a hat trick

Muang Thong United's Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva reached a huge career landmark in style as his 10-man side won 3-0 at Chiang Rai United.

The second strike of Cleiton's hat trick was his 100th Thai league goal since coming from lower league Brazilian side Madureira in 2010. Cleiton established himself as a deadly finisher with his first club Osotspa before really making his mark with 44 goals in 63 games at BEC Tero Sasana. Brief spells in Mexico in 2014 didn't work out and Muang Thong snapped up the attacker later that year.

On Saturday, Cleiton scored early on with a clinical finish from Chanathip Songkrasin's through ball. The goal that brought up the century was an excellent curling effort from the edge of the box.

The Kirins' Spanish defender Mario Alvarez was sent off early in the second half but as the hosts pushed to get back in the game, Chanathip broke away and found Cleiton, who nodded past the onrushing Chiang Rai keeper.

Cleiton reacted to the landmark by telling his Facebook followers, "Never in my life did I think that one day I would score 100 goals in the Thai league."

3. Charyl Chappuis is back

Suphanburi's Thai international midfielder Charyl Chappuis ended his injury agony with a first competitive appearance in almost 18 months. The former Switzerland youth international stepped up his recovery last month with a brief appearance in a friendly. And on Sunday evening, Chappuis finally returned to PLT action when he replaced goal scorer Carmelo Gonzalez with just over 10 minutes remaining in the War Elephant's 1-0 home win over Army United.

Thai football fans will be hoping that Chappuis will now make the necessary progress before the next stage of World Cup qualifying in September. And Suphanburi fans will also be delighted as their club edged into sixth spot with their third clean sheet in a row and their third win in the last four games.

Thailand's Swiss-born playmaker Charyl Chappuis returned to action after 18 months on the sidelines.

4. Sisaket's home comforts

Sisaket can be a difficult venue for visiting teams but Ratchaburi must have thought they had overcome the hosts when they led through Heberty Fernandes' first-half penalty deep into added time.

But Phuwadol Suwannachart had other ideas and his late equaliser preserved Sisaket's unbeaten home record. Božidar Bandović's side have now won 13 of this year's 14 points on home territory so their away record is as dismal as their home record is impressive.

However, any visitors to this part of North East Thailand know that they will have to dig deep to leave town with three points.

5. Navy FC find the way to goal

It has been a long wait for Navy FC but they finally ended a six-match streak without a goal when Andre Luis struck a 56th-minute winner at home to 10-man Nakhon Ratchasima.

Way back on March 12, Anggelo Machuca's 90th minute strike in the 1-0 victory over BBCU on Match Day 3 was the last time Navy FC had a goal to celebrate.

The result lifted Teco Cugurra's side out of the relegation zone. But relief may be short-lived, with league leaders Bangkok United next up on Wednesday.

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK

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